Google leads pretty much everyone in clean energy, tech companies, major corporations the US military, etc. Now, in 2017 it’s going to reach a new milestone. The company and all of its global operations will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Making it the first giant IT company to reach that goal.
The company made the announcement yesterday (Dec. 6) on its official blog in a post by Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of Technical Infrastructure. “I’m thrilled to announce that in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices,” Hölzle said. “Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future."
The company began its march to clean energy just over five years ago. “We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from an 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010,” Hölzle said.
Since then it's doubled, tripled and more than quadrupled its renewable energy purchases, with most coming from wind power but an increasing amount coming from solar. It now has 20 renewable energy purchases totaling $3.5 billion in investments. “We began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change—but it also makes business sense,” Hölzle explained.
“We’re focusing on creating new energy from renewable sources, so we only buy from projects that are funded by our purchases." Such projects include unique financing structures like in North Carolina, where it signed a green rider, basically a pass-through agreement allowing Google to absorb all the costs of energy from a solar farm owned by Duke Energy and under a power purchase agreement contract with Google.
The company attributed its ability to quickly ramp up its use of renewable energy to drops in cost. “The cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” Hölzle said.
Beyond that, the power coming from renewable energy projects provides Google and its parent company, Alphabet, with energy pricing stability rather than relying on fossil fuel-based energy and the changing costs of coal or natural gas. “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy,” Hölzle explained.
The company will increase its use of clean energy as well, according to Hölzle. In the future, it will focus on projects close to its data centers and other large operations. “We’ll also broaden our purchases to a variety of energy sources that can enable renewable power, every hour of every day. Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone—not just Google—has access to clean energy,” he said.Tweet